An innovation of the new economics foundation (nef), the Happy Planet Index (HPI) measures the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered. It differs from the usual indicator of national wealth – Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – as well as from the various alternative indicators that begin with GDP, and then subtract social and environmental costs to approach a more genuine vision of economic success. The new Index is built from two objective indicators – life expectancy and the ecological footprint – and a subjective one – people’s life satisfaction. The data set is constructed with official statistics used by policy-makers. This nef’s report, written by Nic Marks (who devised the HPI), Saamah Abdallah, Andrew Simms, and Sam Thompson, explains the rationale and composition of the Index, analyzes the factors influencing well-being, and ranks countries as to their HPI performance. The authors show that humankind can achieve comparable levels of well-being by following different routes and that happiness does not have to “cost the Earth.” They conclude with ten proposals that define a “Global Manifesto for a happier planet.”
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Marks, Nic, Andrew Simms, Sam Thompson, and Saamah Abdallah. 2006. The Happy Planet Index: An index of human well-being and environmental impact. London: New Economics Foundation.